PHOENIX (AP) – The NBA asked a law firm to investigate the Phoenix Suns after a report released Thursday detailed allegations that owner Robert Sarver has a history of racist, misogynistic and hostile incidents during his 17 years in charge of the franchise. .
ESPN said it spoke with dozens of current and former team employees for the article., including some that detailed Sarver’s inappropriate behavior. Most of the accusations come from anonymous sources, but some gave their names.
In the ESPN article, Sarver denied or contradicted most of the allegations through his legal team. The Suns also flatly denied the report in a lengthy statement released Thursday.
“I would welcome an impartial investigation by the NBA which may prove our only way out to clear my name and the reputation of an organization of which I am very proud.”Sarver said.
Sarver will fulfill your wish. In a statement released today, the NBA has asked the Wachtell Lipton law firm to “begin a thorough investigation”:
The allegations contained in the ESPN article are extremely serious, and we have directed the Wachtell Lipton Law Firm to begin a thorough investigation. The NBA and the WNBA remain committed to providing a respectful and inclusive workplace for all employees. Once the investigation is complete, its findings will provide the basis for any action by the league. “
Among the allegations: Former Suns coach Earl Watson said Sarver was upset that Golden State player Draymond Green used the “N-Word” during a game in 2016 and that the owner repeated the word multiple times. by expressing their displeasure. Watson said that he told Sarver that he couldn’t use that expression.
Watson was the Suns coach for three seasons before being fired after 3 games in the 2017-18 season.
Sarver said in his statement that Watson “It was clearly not a credible source.”
“While there are so many inaccurate and misleading things in this story that I hardly know where to start, let me be clear: N-Word is not part of my vocabulary.” Sarver claimed. “I have never called anyone or any group of people with the N-Word, nor have I referred to anyone or any group of people with that word, either verbally or in writing. I don’t use that word. “
Watson issued his own statement through the Toronto Raptors, where he is now an assistant coach.
“I am not interested in participating in an ongoing fact battle”, Watson assured. “Instead, I want to applaud the courage of the many players, executives and employees in fighting toxic environments of racial insensitivity, sexual harassment and micro-attacks with their truth.
“I have been in the NBA for 17 years, which has allowed me the financial privilege to speak my truth, but we cannot forget those who must remain silent for fear of losing their jobs.”
The article also details a story about how Sarver exposed a photo of his wife in a Suns bikini to employees. The report says that more than a dozen employees also said Sarver had a history of “Make lewd comments in meetings with all staff.”
The Suns hosted the Houston Rockets Thursday night and Phoenix coach Monty Williams addressed the report before the game. Williams, who is African American, said that he had not spoken to Sarver since the ESPN story was published and that if he had heard the owner say any of the things that were alleged in the story, “I would not be in this seat.”
“My reaction is that there is a lot to process”, Williams replied. “There are so many things there and it is still unclear to me, as far as the facts are concerned. As someone who is in charge of the program, I find all these things that are said serious by nature. These accusations are delicate, that is an understatement. “.
Williams added that he would understand if any of his players did not want to play Thursday because of the situation, but said none of them had expressed that sentiment up to this point.
In ESPN’s story, league spokesman Mike Bass says the NBA hasn’t “Received a complaint of organizational misconduct from the Suns through any of our processes, including our confidential workplace misconduct hotline or other correspondence.”
Sarver has owned the Suns since 2004. The 59-year-old Phoenix businessman also owns the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.
The Suns are coming off one of the most successful seasons in their history, reaching the NBA Finals with stars Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton before losing in six games to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Suns have reached the Finals three times, in 1976, 1993 and 2021, but they have never won a championship.
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NBA: Law Firm to Investigate Suns Following Report of Racism and Misogyny | NBA.com Spain | The Official Site of the NBA